March 16, 2007

Air Canada A320 Aborted Las Vegas Takeoff as Tires Blow

An Air Canada jet with 146 people aboard was barreling down a runway at 126 mph when it blew landing gear tires and aborted its takeoff from Las Vegas, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Tuesday.

No injuries were reported after Air Canada flight 547 came safely to a stop Monday about halfway down a 14,510-foot (4,423-meter) runway at McCarran International Airport, America's fifth-busiest.

All 140 passengers and six crew were ushered down portable stairs and bused back to the terminal. They were put up overnight at a hotel and flown Tuesday to their original destination in Calgary, Alberta, aboard another plane, airport and airline officials said.

The disabled Airbus 320, which did not became airborne, remained on the runway at McCarran for more than 17 hours with engines damaged by debris from shredded tires, said Ian Gregor FAA spokesman for the regional office in Hawthorne, California.

"Both engines are damaged and the left main gear is badly damaged," Gregor said. He said pilots reported brake problems on the aircraft before the mishap.

"If this was a U.S. carrier, we would take a very close look at the design features of this aircraft to see if they contributed to what went wrong," he said.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday whether the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board would investigate or whether Transport Canada, the Canadian federal transportation department, would take part.

International protocol calls for the NTSB to be the lead investigative agency of an accident on U.S. soil and a representative from the Canadian agency to observe, said Paul Schlamm, an NTSB spokesman in Washington, and Nicole McNeely, a spokeswoman for Transport Canada in Ottawa.

However, Gregor noted that the mishap was classified as an "incident" instead of an accident because no one was hurt.

He said the pilots reported "hot brakes" and pulled the aircraft out of a departure queue before rejoining the takeoff line and starting down the runway about 6 p.m. - more than 30 minutes after a scheduled 5:25 p.m. departure.

As the plane reached 110 knots, tires on the left main landing gear "disintegrated," Gregor said, the brakes on the landing gear ground a groove in the runway, and the tire on the nose landing gear blew.

Air Canada was investigating the mishap and was following protocols with government agencies and the aircraft's manufacturers, said John Reber, spokesman for the airline in Montreal. Reber said he could not provide details until the probe was complete.

"The important thing here is there were no injuries," the airline spokesman said. "After deplaning the passengers, our priority was to minimize the inconvenience to them."

Gregor and McCarran officials said air controllers diverted traffic away from the blocked runway and no other flights were delayed until the damaged aircraft was moved about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Airport spokeswoman Candice Seeley said "minor ruts" in the runway were repaired before it was reopened.

By Ken Ritter, The Associated Press.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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